NEK Unemployment Increase Reflects Growing Labor Force

Data released this week by the Vermont Department of Labor shows unemployment rates in the Northeast Kingdom jumped last month, outpacing statewide trends but there is a silver lining to the data. The bump is not because a large number of people lost jobs but instead because more people are being counted as part of the potential labor force and looking for work. According to the Labor Department, the Derby area unemployment rate jumped from 3.9% in December to 6.9% in January, the largest increase in the state and the highest rate of all the labor markets. In that timeframe, though, the number of employed people increased from 11,098 people to 11,647. The rise in the unemployment rate in the Derby area was driven by the addition of nearly 1,000 people to the labor force  jumping from 11,549 to 12,507. The Derby labor force has nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels. In January 2020 there were 12,883 people in the labor force. The low point was in April 2021 when there were 10,731 people in the Derby labor force. The Derby tally of unemployed was at 860 people in January.